Friday, August 10, 2012

St. Lawrence, Victor, Pray for Us

Today,Aug. 10th, we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Lawrence, my patron saint. (Laura is the feminine form of the same root from which the name, Lawrence, comes, which is derived from the word laurel, the vine from which the laurel wreath of victory was woven to crown the winner of the ancient Greek games.) This, by the way, is a happy coincidence as we are currently celebrating the 30th of the modern-day Olympics. But, I digress. Lawrence was a deacon in 3rd-century Rome who, as such, had a vocation to care for the needy, sick, and elderly of the city. He lived during the reign of Pope Sixtus II during a time of great persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor Valerian II. When the prefect of Rome, ruling then under Valerian, ordered the execution of the Pope, he demanded from Lawrence that he bring to him all the treasures of the Church. Lawrence, in turn, quickly sold all the precious objects the Church had in its possession at the time and distributed the proceeds among the poor, then, gathered together as many of these needy and sick as he could and brought them before the prefect, saying, "THESE are the treasures of the Church." With that, of course, his fate was sealed and he was executed just 3 days after Pope Sixtus, going with courage and even, it could be said, with joy, to his death, he so loved his Lord Jesus. Several Roman senators who witnessed the power of his testimony of faith as he was sentenced, then, roasted to death on a gridiron, still professing faith in Christ, were converted to the faith and took upon themsleves the responsibility of seeing to his burial. Today's Gospel reading includes Jesus' words that "unless a grain of wheat fall to the ground and die, it remains a single grain, but when it dies, it bears much fruit." Just so, as St. Lawrence's life and death testify, along with all the other Christian martyrs up to and including the present day, there is truth to the saying that, "From the blood of the martyrs, springs the life of the Church." May we who today seek to follow Jesus serve Him faithfully with much love and joy, as St. Lawrence did, in the lives of our brothers and sisters in the human family, especially the most needy among us, from whom we expect nothing in return save the joy of serving them.

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